As shoppers seek the latest updates on store hours, policies, and product availability, many IGA retailers have used Facebook and other social media platforms to quickly share this information. And while Facebook is a huge asset for communicating during COVID-19, it's important to remember that missteps could wreak havoc on your Facebook page.
IGA and AR Marketing, the IGA Red Oval partner who manages many IGA retailers' social media pages through the IGA Social program, have put together these best practices and guidelines that all retailers can use moving forward to manage shopper expectations, ward off too many negative comments, and avoid having posts removed by Facebook for subject matter violations.
1. Post store guidelines specific to your city and state governing policies
Shoppers around the world are using Facebook to inquire and comment on the safety protocol being followed in the stores they shop. When posting about your store's efforts to protect employees and shoppers, be sure you're following city and state policies—and fully documenting exceptions to those policies.
For example, if governing policies require customers to wear mask to shop, be sure to include exceptions for shoppers who cannot wear masks due to underlying conditions in ALL posts. Listing these exceptions, while tedious, will help manage expectations with shoppers and provide ample information for customers to hopefully understand if they see someone not following the guidelines.
To make it easier to include the policies in each post, write them out and keep them at the ready in a Word or Google doc so you can copy and paste them to the bottom of each COVID-related post. This practice ensures you cover the policies each and every time. See this sample of what to add to the bottom of your post:
Hours: 9:00 am–7:00 pm M-F
Senior Hours: 9:00 am–10:00 am every Tuesday
Mask policy (with exceptions noted)...
2. Engage with customer comments and answer questions in a timely manner.
With emotions running high, the last thing you want is for an issue a shopper called out on Facebook to turn into a full-blown crisis. If a shopper posts a complaint on your page, quickly acknowledge the shopper, thank them for reaching out, and move the conversation into a private message or email so you can learn more detail. This technique allows others to see that you are responsive, while moving the conversation away from a public forum reduces the risk of additional negative feedback on your page.
3. Avoid boosting COVID-related posts
Facebook is temporarily prohibiting ads that commercially promote certain medical supplies and other high-demand products related to COVID-19, as they have been associated with exploitative behavior. For IGA retailers, this means any post referring to hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, and masks—even it's just an employee wearing a mask—cannot be boosted. Doing so can result in your post being removed, or your account being temporarily suspended.
4. Post your digital ad and promotions
With out of stocks prevalent during the past two months, IGA Corporate postponed its National Digital Ad, and many retailers stopped running local promotions as well. Now that things are beginning to stabilize and weekly ads are running again, it's important to get your ad back on Facebook to show financially-strapped shoppers what you're doing to help them ride out the pandemic (click here for resources to promote this week's National Digital Ad). Just be conscious of the new ad policy above—leave COVID-specific references to masks and cleaning supplies out of boosted posts.
As a whole, AR Marketing encourages IGA retailers to be positive on social media and avoid political and controversial messages. The AR Marketing team has focused on sharing positive reviews, posts thanking the community for supporting the store and shopping local, thanking employees for their dedication and hard work, and photos of employees in the store wearing their PPE and practicing the 6-foot social distancing guidelines. They have seen plenty of positive reactions to posts with these topics, and recommend retailers use these tips to promote positivity and avoid public relations issues.